The new lifeline may already be helping save lives
On July 16, the U.S. transitioned to 988, an easy-to-remember number that routes callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, now known as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or 988 Lifeline. Similar to the 911 emergency system that connects callers with nearby first-responders, the 988 Lifeline is a 24/7 national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Individuals can call or text the hotline, which has increased access to trained support. Previously, callers dialed a 10-digit toll-free number, not as easily remembered and potentially without connection to local support or as many trained counselors.
Mental health and health care providers are particularly glad for the rollout since they will be able to respond to many crises before there is escalation or delays in referrals from 911 responders who may not be trained in mental health crisis intervention. On average, police spend 20% of their time responding to and transporting people who are having mental health crises and it is anticipated that 988 can help reduce violent interactions with the police, including fatal shootings of people in crisis. It is hoped that 988 will also be part of the solution to end the constant cycle of ER visits, arrests, imprisonment, and homelessness among mentally ill people.
The $432 million initial funding for the long-sought system transition came from the Biden-Harris Administration and the U.S. Congress and with collaboration of other federal, state/territory, and local governments across the country. An additional $150 million has been allocated for the 988 Lifeline under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act signed this summer.
Promising Data Indicate Impact
Suicide is one of the country’s leading causes of death; nearly 46,000 people died by suicide in 2020, or one death every 11 minutes. An estimated 12.2 million Americans had seriously thought about suicide in 2020; 3.2 million Americans planned a suicide attempt and 1.2 million Americans attempted suicide.
But there are positive indications of 988’s goal to catalyze connection into action. At the end of August, the first full month of operation, the 988 Lifeline is potentially already saving lives. New data released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show a 45% increase in overall call volume with 988 and a substantial improvement in answer rates and wait times, compared to August 2021 with the previous lifeline system.
This new system expedites the connection between those struggling with mental health crises and properly trained counselors who will ideally be located close to the caller, meaning communities can better leverage localized resources. In instances where the local center is too busy to pick up, callers will be transferred to a different center, so they will still be able to receive prompt support.
The Road to Transformation
Transformation of this scale is never easy. It will take time and more resources for the 988 Lifeline system to reach its full potential. A recent survey of 180 public health officials in the U.S. by the Rand Corporation found that 51% of respondents said they were not involved in developing a strategic plan for 988. And only 16% said they had created a budget to support 988 operations.
As community-based organizations and health care and mental health systems know all too well with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, improving prevention and response crisis care in the U.S. is especially needed after rising rates of depression and anxiety, particularly among youth and young adults. Because of increased demand, there is a need for stronger support through digital tools, as in-person care is not always readily possible in infection hot spots and there may be a waiting period for in-person counseling.
The Lifeline system is only one part of an effective community response: Other cross-system initiatives like mobile crisis teams, crisis stabilization programs, and expanded access to behavioral health services—especially for communities of color, LGBTQ individuals, and other marginalized groups—are just a few of the other community-designed elements that will reduce suicide rates. Building out the broader crisis care continuum is also dependent on the commitment of future elected officials and other cross-sector leaders to ensure the safety and well-being of all U.S. residents, ensuring that there is someone to call, someone to respond to, and somewhere for every American in crisis to go.
Suicide Prevention Month and 988 Resources
- 988 Lifeline
- Help Prevent Suicide (SAMHSA)
- Crisis Text Line
- The Trevor Project for LGBTQ Youth
Related Learning and Resources from Social Current
- Screening for Social Need and the Social Determinants of Health: Health Access for Special Populations (on-demand webinar)
- Building Capacity to Meet the Demand for Human Services through Partnerships with Health Care (on-demand webinar)
- Building Capacity for Workforce Resilience (consultation)
- Designing a 21st Century Social Sector Workforce (Social Current Hub: Resource Collection)
- Engagement and Neighborhood Building (Social Current Hub: Resource Collection)
- Tackling the Silent Epidemic of Childhood Grief (on-demand webinar)
- Working with Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth and Young Adults (on-demand e-course)
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. During this major system transition, the previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis; the Veterans Crisis Line previous phone number (1-800-273-8255), text (838255), and chat (VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat) likewise remain active.
In a statement from Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of Social Current, she commented on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade:
“While many reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade after nearly 50 years of precedent have illuminated our nation’s political divide, our concerns focus squarely on the impact this decision will have on equitable access to health care, which fosters the health and well-being of all people in our nation.
Prior to the trigger laws going into effect across numerous states, the U.S. already had the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries. Researchers point to our nation’s relatively low numbers of maternity care providers and comprehensive health care, including postpartum supports, as the cause.
Then consider the multiplying effect on communities of color. A study just this week from Duke University suggests a total ban on abortions could increase maternal deaths among Black women by 33%.
Some 26 states are expected to pass some form of abortion restriction, many not even offering exemptions for the life of the mother, rape, or incest. These statewide bans will disproportionately affect the health and well-being of women of color who already face disparities in health care access and outcomes.
These states also lack significant resources to support pregnant people, including access to affordable health care services, childcare services, behavioral health care, and paid family leave.
Studies also show a link between lack of access to abortion and poverty. The Turnaway Study followed women for a decade and found that those denied an abortion were four times as likely to be living in poverty years later, and that trend continued to impact their children. For people living in poverty, this ruling represents a glass ceiling of economic disparities they may never overcome.
We can see the looming future of generations of people being forced to carry pregnancies resulting from rape or incest to term and the impact of that on their emotional well-being. We see generation upon generation of adolescents and young people facing mandated births without adequate resources to lift themselves out of poverty. We see a future of greater divides across America—not political divides but a division of haves and have nots, as only families of means will have the ability to travel across states or to other countries to access safe abortions and reproductive health care services. And we see a potential future of more erosion of rights, as other rulings linked to Roe v. Wade that protect access to contraception and same-sex marriage are challenged and possibly eroded.
We work at the nexus of community and government to support policies that advance equity, improve health and well-being, and increase economic opportunity and mobility so all people can thrive. This Supreme Court ruling strips away the fundamental rights that provide equitable access to health and economic opportunity. It is a setback for our whole society and we pledge to work across our sector and across our nation to ameliorate its impacts and support the right of all people to have self-determination in the most critical and life-changing decisions that impact their health, their families and their lives.”
The views expressed by Social Current are grounded in and aligned with our mission, vision, values, and policy agenda principles and do not necessarily reflect those of our entire network.
For Black History Month, the Social Current Knowledge and Insights Center is highlighting resources related to Black Health and Wellness, which is this year’s theme chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The Center has examined resources on initiatives focused on reducing health disparities; increasing preventive care and body positivity; and fostering emotional and mental health.
Below are examples of how Black doctors and nurses are focusing on strengthening well-being and opportunities for Black families through representation and community conversations. In addition, learn about the organizations working on the front lines to provide resources, treatment, and other supports to support the BIPOC community in reducing health disparities and building capacity for conditions that sustain positive social determinants of health.
Health Equity and Shared Accountability
Strategic partnerships and other health equity initiatives are most effective when there is a shared understanding that families caught in entrenched poverty caused by institutional racism can benefit from multigenerational approaches to family and community success, along with collective action to gain access to the resources and supports necessary for well-being. For example, Social Current is part of a national collaborative with the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network focused on mitigating the negative impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. We are also partnering with Unite Us to advance health equity and improve health and social outcomes through innovation and technology. These relationships will add necessary investment and accountability with communities and support the leadership of Black and Brown health care professionals in health systems across the country.
Health Representation and Community Leadership
The following examples show how Black doctors and nurses are focusing on strengthening well-being and opportunities for Black families.
The Struggle and Triumph of America’s First Black Doctors
African American physicians have dealt with distrust and misperceptions for more than a century. Their story has been one of both incredible achievement and deep-seated discrimination.
The Creator of a Viral Black Fetus Medical Illustration Blends Art and Activism
Chidiebere Ibe says his work is not just about the lack of representation in medical illustrations. It’s also about the beauty of African culture.
How to Get Up to 3,000 More Black People in Physician Pipeline
Physician leaders argue the time is now for bold thinking to dramatically increase the number of Black students who enter physician training.
Black Nurses Matter: On the Frontlines
The Black Nurses Matter (BNM) network emerged to empower and amplify the voices of Black nurses and organize and mobilize the nursing community to be active in the pursuit of racial and social justice.
Between Us, About Us: A New Campaign By Black Health Care Workers for Black People
Black doctors, nurses, and researchers dispel misinformation and provide accessible facts in 50 FAQ videos that deliver the COVID-19 vaccines information Black people are asking for.
Reducing Health Disparities On the Front Line
These are examples of organizations that are providing resources, treatment, and other supports to help the Black community with health disparities.
We Need More Black Doctors: These Organizations Can Help
To combat the effects of racism and lack of Black representation in the medical field, these organizations are advocating for BIPOC students and doctors with the goal of breaking barriers and diversifying the health care industry.
The Center for African American Health
The Center is committed to improving the health and well-being of the African American community by offering community-based, evidenced-based, disease prevention and disease management programs, events, and services.
The Center for Black Health & Equity
The Center for Black Health & Equity is committed to the pursuit of health justice for people of African descent, particularly to address prevention and treatment of cancer, tobacco-related disease, and HIV/AIDS.
Innovating Doula Program to Address Racial Health Disparities
Doulas play a crucial role in combating the discrimination, racism, and loss of autonomy that Black and Brown birthing people experience due to historical disinvestment. This program develops referral pathways with healthcare systems and federally qualified health centers to facilitate care.
Milwaukee Health Services
This center has served low-income populations since 1989 and is committed to removing barriers and improving health outcomes that promote quality of life and reduce disparities among racial and ethnic communities.
California Black Health Network
CBHN conducts outreach, education, and advocacy to achieve health equity for Black Californians through the lens of understanding critical issues that lie at the intersection of racial justice, social justice, and environmental justice.
Building on Strengths
Raising up Black children, mothers, fathers, and their family members advance society as a whole. Throughout the month, Social Current is highlighting Black voices and stories, focusing on strengths-based and collaborative socioeconomic mobility solutions, sharing emerging research and best practices, and extending opportunities for learning and action.
Here are some ways to join our work on equity, diversity, and inclusion today:
- Participate in workshops, learning collaboratives, and consulting services
- Connect with peers and industry experts with SPARK Exchanges (formerly APEX Groups) (Sign up now for the Feb. 8 orientation webinar)
- Enroll in courses focused on building community health and well-being
- Subscribe to policy and advocacy updates
- Sign up for the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network’s pandemic response updates
- Browse the Knowledge and Insights Center (formerly Alliance Library) for Black health and wellness research and resources (Social Current network exclusive)
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated underlying inequities in the U.S. health care system, disproportionately affecting communities of color. Those inequities make it clear that the U.S. needs systemic investment in public and community health systems—focused on serving the most marginalized individuals and communities.
The newly released white paper provides a roadmap by focusing on four key pillars of health equity that reflect the challenges faced by implementers during the COVID-19 response:
By ensuring our approaches include improved access to care, strong data systems, a shift in decision-making power, and access to resources, communities in the U.S. will be able to build a more equitable health care system.
Download the white paper online.
About the Vaccine Equity Cooperative
In fall 2020, Health Leads, NACHW, Partners In Health, and Social Current, came together to form the Vaccine Equity Cooperative to share trusted resources, expand funding, and strengthen policy in support of community-based and public health workforces. This initiative, a collaborative approach to addressing structural barriers and building vaccine confidence, aims to further support the rebuilding of public trust necessary to address long-term disparities and prepare for future crises.
Learn more about the Vaccine Equity Cooperative and how to get involved online.
Social Current Resources on Health Equity
Here are some ways to join our work on equity, diversity, and inclusion today:
- Participate in workshops, learning collaboratives, and consulting service
- Register for our upcoming webinars on health equity:
- Contribute your perspective to our federal policy agenda by joining the focus group on the social determinants of health and health equity Feb. 17
- Sign up for the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network’s pandemic response updates
- Browse the Knowledge and Insights Center (formerly Alliance Library) for Black health and wellness research and resources (Social Current network exclusive) – each week will feature a specific topic:
- Week 1: Highlighting the innovation and progress of Black scholars, medical practitioners, birthworkers, doulas, midwives, and others
- Week 2: Initiatives to help decrease health disparities
- Week 3: Preventive care and focus on body positivity, physical exercise, nutrition, etc.
- Week 4: Emotional and mental health advances in research and best practices
Social Current has collaborated with Prevent Child Abuse America on a new toolkit to help community-based organizations understand how to advocate for and access funds available through recent opioid settlements with pharmaceutical companies. The prevention and treatment services that community-based organizations provide are essential to addressing the ongoing opioid epidemic.
After a lengthy legal process to hold companies accountable for downplaying the addictiveness of opioids, 47 states have settled with opioid manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors, and pharmacies for $26 billion. Separate opioid settlements are in process or concluded in the remaining states as well as additional localities. Though the funds resulting from the major settlement are temporarily in limbo because of legal action taken by the family that owns Purdue Pharma, these resources will ultimately be used to address the opioid crisis, and it is critical that community-based organizations begin preparing now to ensure that these funds are used not just for treatment, but also for prevention.
The settlement funds, proposed to be disbursed over the next 18 years and frontloaded at the beginning, will go to states and localities for the purpose of addressing the opioid epidemic. As these funds flow to entities across the nation, community-based organizations must have a seat at the table to decide how these funds are spent locally. These will be significant investments in the kinds of services our sector provides. The deep impact of the opioid epidemic has made it clear that a major part of the solution will be strengthening communities with upstream resources and supports.
This guide offers tools and resources to help community-based organizations navigate the complex legal and legislative process. Organizations should reach out to relevant stakeholders immediately, as these decisions are being made now in many states.
Download the toolkit from the Policy Action Center.
Social Current and Unite Us Collaborate to Address Health and Social Disparities in Communities
New York and Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2021–
Social Current, formally the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and the Council on Accreditation, today announced its collaboration with Unite Us, the nation’s leading technology company connecting health and social care services, to advance health equity and improve health and social outcomes through innovation and technology. This relationship will enable Social Current and Unite Us to work collaboratively to make positive change in communities across the country.
Social Current, a national advocate that ignites change for an equitable society where all people can thrive, is a newly formed organization with roots in the nonprofit and social sectors dating back more than a century. Unite Us, an outcome-focused technology company that builds coordinated care networks of health and social service providers, is building a sustainable infrastructure for social services to not only survive, but thrive. Unite Us’ end-to-end solution, specifically Unite Us Payments, can support organizations in Social Current’s network by providing the technology infrastructure to permit those organizations to be paid by the private sector for the services they are providing to their communities.
Many community-based organizations across the country don’t have the capacity they need to meet local needs because social care has been historically underfunded. Unite Us Payments provides the infrastructure for funding entities and community-based organizations to collaborate seamlessly—from streamlining the documentation, reporting, and billing processes, to tying social care services back to health outcomes. By demonstrating the value of social care investments, Unite Us Payments makes it easier for community-based organizations to access funding, provide social care at scale, and ensure the sustainability of social care services in the community.
Together, Social Current and Unite Us will highlight ways community-based organizations can use Unite Us Payments to sustainably increase their capacity and measurably impact health outcomes, supporting the case for value-based payment arrangements.
“Community-based organizations have extensive experience and expertise in improving the health and well-being of communities by addressing a variety of social and environmental factors. Through our collaboration with Unite Us, we will work together, leveraging technology, to accelerate the impact of community-based organizations and ensure they are compensated for the value they bring,” said Michelle Hinton-Ford, Director of Practice Excellence for Health and Mental Well-being at Social Current.
“Unite Us is incredibly excited about our collaboration with Social Current. Social Current is a leading voice for change in the social sector, one that can amplify the need to enable social care funding at scale. Through our work together, we look forward to challenging the current paradigm of reactive, clinically-focused systems of care by promoting payment solutions for investment in the foundations of whole-person care,” said Adrienne Sherk, Senior Director, Community-based Organization Partnerships, Unite Us.
Social Current is hosting a webinar presented by Unite Us Feb. 10 from noon-1 p.m. ET on maximizing investments in community-based services. Register now to learn how technology can play a critical role in increasingly bringing together funding streams to sustainably fund the services needed to improve community health and well-being.
About Social Current
Social Current activates the power of the social sector by bringing together a dynamic network of human/social service organizations and partners. Leveraging the collective experience of the field and research, we energize and activate the sector and drive continuous evolution and improvement. Together with our network, Social Current amplifies the work of the social sector through collaboration, innovation, policy, and practice excellence. We offer access to intellectual capital of thousands of professionals within our network through peer groups, learning opportunities, collective advocacy, individualized consultation, tools, and resources that address the sector’s most critical challenges. Together, we will fuel each other’s knowledge, expertise, and experience to spark a real and lasting impact.
About Unite Us
Unite Us is a technology company that builds coordinated care networks of health and social service providers. With Unite Us, providers across sectors can send and receive secure electronic referrals, track every person’s total health journey, and report on tangible outcomes across a full range of services in a centralized, cohesive, and collaborative ecosystem. Unite Us’ dedicated team builds authentic, lasting partnerships with local organizations to ensure their networks have a solid foundation, launch successfully, and continue to grow and thrive. This HITRUST certified social care infrastructure helps communities transform their ability to work together and measure impact at scale. Follow Unite Us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
On Nov. 4, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new federal rule mandating COVID-19 vaccinations or a minimum of weekly testing for workers at U.S. companies with 100 or more employees (see the OSHA webinar recording: COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard). The Biden administration also released a new rule through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that requires workers at health care facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. However, most home- and community-based organizations are excluded from the definition of a “covered entity,” as the rule provides an exemption for certain services. For additional details, see our Nov. 8 federal update.
Leaders of community-based organizations are finding themselves needing to determine their organizations’ paths for creating and upholding vaccine policies, a topic that was covered in the Dec. 1 webinar, Critical Conversation: The State of Vaccine Mandates and Community-Based Organizations. Leaders are also finding that their community partnerships are a powerful resource for support and guidance around vaccine hesitancy that could be present in their staff and community, particularly when it comes to health equity in underserved communities.
To help community-based organizations navigate this complex issue, this list of resources breaks down key considerations and includes tools and tips to meet compliance requirements and address vaccine polarization present in many workforce environments and communities.
OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)
COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS Landing Page
United States. Dept. of Labor
Includes links to the full Federal Register rule, webinar overview, fact sheets, FAQ, social media toolkit, and sample policy templates.
CMS Emergency Regulation
Biden-Harris Administration Issues Emergency Regulation Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination for Health Care Workers
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Press release with links to the interim final rule and list of FAQs
Employer Compliance Tips
OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard: COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Requirements for Larger Employers
National Council of Nonprofits
Summary that answers most nonprofit questions and aids nonprofit employers seeking to determine coverage and comply with the standard. It includes compliance tips, how employees are counted, who is exempt, and what the requirement means in real terms.
CMS Announces New COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Health Care Facilities under Medicare and Medicaid Programs
National Association of Counties
Brief summary of the eligibility, requirements, and compliance deadlines under the interim final rule.
How to Comply with OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Emergency Temporary Standard
Step-by-step guide for determining employee vaccination status, testing logistics, paid time off, remote workers, written policies, communications, and reporting and record keeping.
5-Step Plan for Employers After President Biden Announces Workplace Vaccine Mandates
Five-step action plan includes tips on developing a plan for handling accommodation requests, preparing for OSHA complaints and inspections, etc.
How Employers Can Handle Confidentiality and Privacy Concerns Related to Collecting COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Important points to keep in mind when tracking, collecting, or disclosing an employee’s vaccination status in certain circumstances.
An Employer’s Guide to Navigating Third-Party Vaccine Mandates on Visitors, Vendors, and More
Includes information about how to enforce your own COVID-19 policy on customers, contractors, and guests.
Social Current serves on the advisory board of the National Covid-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN), to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority, rural, and socially vulnerable populations. Stay up to date with new resources about COVID-19 by joining the network and follow them on social media.
Emphasizing Equity in COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements
Made to Save
Includes many ways to focus on equity aligned with the principles of health and safety, lived experiences of those who are affected, and information and access.
Want People to Take the COVID-19 Vaccine? Confront Racism in Health Care
The Commonwealth Fund
Shanoor Seervai talks to Rhea Boyd, M.D., a pediatrician and public health advocate, about what it takes to dismantle the historic racism that has long prevented people of color from getting the health care they need.
COVID-19 Vaccine Equity
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Use these resources to engage with communities that have been affected by COVID-19. Many of the resources available can be tailored for racial and ethnic minority communities.
Vaccinate with Confidence
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Includes links to How to Build Healthcare Personnel’s Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines, strategies for workplaces, and reports about the status of COVID-19 vaccine confidence.
Language that Works to Improve Vaccine Acceptance: Communications Cheat Sheet
Recommendations derived from data in a nationwide survey of 1,400 registered voters with an oversample of 300 Black Americans and 300 Latinx Americans.
What Role Do Culture and Morale Play in Vaccine Mandates?
Insight on potential resistance from employees who are not in a protected category but refuse to be vaccinated, as well as fears of the impact of a mandate on company culture and employee morale.
Three Steps to Smart Covid-19 Testing: A Guide for Employers
Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
This guide is designed to help businesses and other organizations develop appropriate Covid-19 testing plans to enable safe operations during the pandemic.
The Weekly Testing Option in Biden’s COVID-19 Mandate: Prepare Now for a Fast Start
Covers what tests to accept, whether your company must pay for the tests, where to have employees tested, how to verify test results, and how to deal with non-compliance.
Do We Have to Pay for That? Part 1—COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing, and Screening Activities
National Law Review
Looks at vaccination, testing, and screening considerations during and outside of working hours.